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UGS 303: News Literacy: A Citizen's Guide / Reese

Credibility / evaluation

Why we decide to trust.

Fake news, misinformation, disinformation, bias - all of these terms mean different things, but we tend to lump them all together. 

It's really hard to evaluate unfamiliar sources quickly and there are no checklists or hard and fast rules to use. 

Each source must be evaluated on its own merits.

Keep the following in mind as you evaluate a source for credibility:

  • Author
    • Who is the author? (you may have to do a web search)
    • What expertise or experience do they have that make them a credible source in the topic discussed?
      • Ex. a petroleum engineer is highly qualified, but not necessarily someone you'd consult about climatology.
  • Source
    • What is the reputation of the source?
    • Who made it available and for what purpose?
    • Do they have a particular audience in mind?
      • Read About pages and do background research on the publication and its editors, paying attention to funding sources and affiliations.
      • Do the other articles seem to lean to one side of the political spectrum?
  • Evidence
    • Are you able to locate the source of the author's evidence reliably?
    • Is it the evidence represented accurately or has it been interpreted in a biased manner?
    • Can you verify this evidence elsewhere?
  • Currency
    • Is this the most relevant or current information for your topic and argument?
    • Can you find something more recent?
    • Is there older landmark research done in this topic that everyone seems to be referencing or basing their research upon?

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